Frequently Asked Questions
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a substitute tooth root that serves the same function as a natural tooth root. It preserves bone and provides a stable foundation for a replacement tooth that looks, feels, and functions like a natural tooth. Dental implants are made of titanium, which is a biocompatible material used in orthopedic implants.
Why are dental implants better than bridges, partials, and dentures?
Dental implants can last a lifetime, unlike bridges, partials, and dentures that may need to be replaced several times. Since dental implants prevent the bone resorption that occurs when teeth are missing, the natural appearance of the smile is preserved. With implant treatment, there is no compromise to adjacent teeth; they are not cut down to place a bridge or loosened by the hooks on removable partials. Dentures and partials have the added disadvantage of accelerating the bone resorption process, which causes the appearance of premature aging.
Is anyone ever considered too old for dental implants?
Overall health and a desire to improve one’s quality of life are much more important considerations than age. When dental implants were first developed back in the 1950’s, implant supported replacement teeth were originally designed as a solution for older patients who were missing all of their teeth. Since then, many patients well into their nineties have had dental implant treatment without a single problem.
Are there any medical conditions that would cause instances in which the All-on-4 procedure cannot be utilized?
We employ a Board Certified oral surgeon who is also trained and licensed as an MD. He or she will work closely with any patient who may have contraindications for implant placement; however, the vast majority of people are candidates for the All-on-4 procedure. As with all medical procedures, we thoroughly evaluate each person and contact their physician should any questions arise.
Will there be any restrictions to my lifestyle?
No. After a five-to-six-month healing period, you will be able to undertake any activity that you would with normal teeth. This includes eating and drinking whatever you choose. Your new replacement teeth will look, feel, and function like natural teeth, which will allow you to forget about them and enjoy life as it was meant to be enjoyed.
Will my new teeth look natural?
Your new replacement teeth will look, feel, and function like natural teeth. And since implant treatment is the only solution that prevents bone resorption, which can cause your smile to look unnatural, the long-term esthetics will be superior to any other treatment option.
Who is a candidate for dental implant treatment?
Nearly everyone who is missing one or more teeth and is in general good health is a candidate for dental implant treatment. There are a few medical conditions that can undermine the success of implant treatment, such as uncontrolled diabetes. However, there are very few conditions that would keep someone from having implant treatment altogether.
Is the surgical procedure painful?
Most implant patient’s report that the discomfort is far less than they expected and is very much like having a tooth extracted. Moreover, although everyone is different with regards to pain tolerance, most patients are very comfortable simply taking Tylenol afterward.
Is it necessary to have one implant placed for each missing tooth?
No. In fact, it is possible to replace all of the lower teeth with an overdenture that is supported by only 2-4 implants. On the other hand, some dental specialists feel that it is advantageous to replace missing posterior teeth with individual implants to provide additional strength to withstand the forces of chewing for patients who have most of their natural teeth.
Each patient’s situation is unique and should be evaluated by a dental specialist to determine the appropriate number of implants required to support the replacement teeth that will meet the patient’s functional and esthetic needs.
How long do implants last?
Documented clinical research demonstrates that implant-supported replacement teeth have been successful for over 50 years. These were some of the first root-form implant cases ever completed and they have been closely monitored from the beginning. It is highly likely that these cases will be successful throughout the lifetime of those patients.
Do dental implants ever fail?
Dental implant treatment is one of the most successful procedures in the medical-dental field, with documented success rates over 98%. Although successful treatment is very predictable, there are rare occasions where the bone does not completely bond to the implants. When this occurs, new implants are placed and the success rates for the replacement implants are even higher.
Smoking or putting too much pressure on newly placed implants, as with excessive grinding of the teeth, can cause problems with the bone bonding to the implants and should be avoided.
Does the body ever reject dental implants?
Several years ago there was quite a scare about certain types of breast implants, which has caused a number of people to ask if the same thing is possible with dental implants.
As indicated above, the success rates for dental implants are extremely high. This is due in part to the fact that root-form implants are made of a biocompatible material – titanium. Because titanium is accepted so well by the human body, it also used for orthopedic implants, such as hip and knee replacements.
If dental implants preserve bone, why would a dentist recommend a tooth supported bridge?
Naturally, since dental implants preserve bone, if a patient qualifies as a candidate, implant treatment is usually considered the treatment of choice. Now that implants are considered standard of care, it is much less common for dentists to recommend fixed bridges instead of implants. Some dentists recommend bridges for patients who are not candidates for implants, or when patients insist on having the lowest possible fee for tooth replacement.
However, even in cases where the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth/teeth have restorations, many dentists do not want to grind these teeth down into peg shapes to fit a bridge, as this compromises the long term health of those teeth. Furthermore, most dentists abhor the idea of grinding down perfect teeth without restorations to place a traditional bridge, and therefore, will almost always recommend dental implant treatment for such cases.
Are there situations where extracting a tooth and replacing it with an implant would be recommended?
There are many situations where natural teeth are either failing or are about to fail. This includes severe periodontal disease (gum disease) that has eroded the bone that supports the teeth. Sometimes in these cases, it is preferable to extract the teeth; eliminate the disease and infection, and replace the teeth with implant supported crowns/bridges.
There are also situations where a tooth has had a root canal (nerves have been removed from the tooth) leaving the tooth brittle and susceptible to fracture. In cases where the tooth needs to be retreated and the prognosis is not favorable, it is preferable to extract the tooth and replace it with an implant-supported crown.
Teeth with severe fractures are usually extracted and are ideal candidates for replacement with dental implant treatment.
What is involved with taking care of dental implants?
The home care recommended varies depending upon the type of implant supported replacement teeth. For example, a single implant supported crown is cleaned like a natural tooth, with regular brushing and flossing. Implant supported bridges that replace a few teeth are cleaned like tooth supported bridges, brushing and flossing with a floss threader.
Home care is a little more complicated for people who are missing all of their teeth, in that special brushes and floss are often recommended. With overdentures, it is necessary to clean the implant attachments, as well as the overdenture. Permanently fixed implant supported replacement teeth are cleaned like all other bridges.
In all cases, it is recommended that patients see their regular dentist and hygienist at least twice each year unless they routinely see the periodontist, in which case they would continue to alternate visits. It is usually recommended that the patient see the surgical specialist who places the implant(s) at least once each year as well. These visits, combined with proper home care, are essential to the long term success of implant treatment.